May 2014

DECISIVE: Making Better Decisions

[Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a book review (partially/mostly because this is based on an interview by the authors of the book). Rather I intend to share my own response to part of their ideas that really stuck out to me and I wanted to share. Please get a copy of the book or listen to the interview in it’s entirety for yourself.]

I don’t have a car, and so I walk a ton. Like 20,000 steps a day ton (thanks to the free Fitbit monitor I got in February which tells me). So before I ever go anywhere I try and download a podcast or audiobook to listen to, along with a few albums from Spotify when I’d rather just feel like I’m a boss in my own world pounding the streets with my $20 white Sony headphones which people keep asking me if they are Beats. I think listening to FallOutBoy walking across campus for 4 years did this to me.

Since I walk a lot, and therefore listen to many podcasts, more of these are going to eventually pop up here. And today I wanted to share one that was especially good was a conversation between New York Time’s Bestseller author/speaker/interviewer Daniel Pink (“To Sell Is Human” and “DRiVE”) and also NYT bestsellers Chip and Dan Heath (“Made to Stick” and “Switch”) about their new book DECISIVE: How to make Better Choices in Life and Work.


Process matters more than Analysis. – Decisive

The Heath brothers say that we tend to be biased in our decision making, and therefore even rigorous analysis bent towards a certain desired outcome will be misleading, and at worst completely wrong. The traditional Pros/Cons list we all make (mentally or physically on paper/computer) is incredibly inefficient, especially since it only looks at one variable, “Do I do this?” And so, the way we make decisions is crucial to finding answers that help us make better decisions.

Their own process is called WRAP:

  1. Widen your options
  2. Reality-test your assumptions.
  3. Attain distance before deciding
  4. Prepare to be wrong.

Attain Distance

Because I have not read the book yet, an inevitable decision I will be making soon, I just wanted to talk about one aspect of the WRAP plan I found really interesting, ATTAIN DISTANCE.

Most the time, we are too close in proximity to a decision that we have to make concerning ourselves. Do I move to a new city? Do I break up with my girlfriend? Should I take this job? So to step back for a moment and try to see the forest instead of just the trees, there is a trick you can use to make a better decision. Ask yourself, “What would I suggest my best friend do in this same situation?” I know for me, I found this test incredibly enlightening, especially for the toughest of questions. For some reason it becomes more clear and sometimes even daring.

They polled a number of students and asked them, “You met a girl in your Psychology class. Should you A) wait to talk to her a few more times before asking her out or B.) call her immediately?” The respondents mostly said “A,” wait and talk to her more when it concerned themselves, but when asked to give advice for a best friend they overwhelming responded “B,” just do it.

When we make decisions for ourselves, we float between many variables. When we make decisions for others, we look at what is most important.

Check It Out

I found this interview fascinating. Daniel Pink is one of the better interviewers out there (and even sounds better now that they record in an actual studio rather than his garage) who brings genuine intrigue and creative questions and hypothesis to test the people he’s talking to. You can listen to the entire interview here where Chip and Dan Heath talk more in depth about their book and explain their full process.

Also, checkout Dan Pink’s OFFICE HOURS podcast where I located this interview for more conversations with awesome people.

And eventually I will be getting my own copy of the book DECISIVE as well.